From Iceland — Grapevine Playlist: Mannveira, Vök, Unnsteinn, Oscar Leone & More!

Grapevine Playlist: Mannveira, Vök, Unnsteinn, Oscar Leone & More!

Published July 2, 2021

Grapevine Playlist: Mannveira, Vök, Unnsteinn, Oscar Leone & More!
Photo by
Hafsteinn Viðar Ársælsson

Sit in the sun. Bump some tunes. Have a blast.

Mannveira – Í Köldum Faðmi

At the origin of every genre lies a raw creative energy that defies translation into rules and norms, but inevitably, even the most extreme genres can become restrained by convention and lose this original energy. Mannveira’s latest single, “Í Köldum Faðmi”, from their recently released album ‘Vitahringur’, rediscovers the purely manic misanthropy at the heart of the genre. In keeping with the spirit of black metal though, there are certainly some new influences to be heard, with some truly fucked up death industrial ritual cult shit in the intro, and a generally more consonant and affirmative tone throughout. Funnily enough, I was just looking for a soundtrack to tear someone’s head off, so the full album can’t drop soon enough. EP

Vök – Skin

Another powerful hit by our all time favourite electronic indie band Vök. Powerful lyrics, combined with hypnotising electronic beats and a certain sense of mystique, abduct one on a journey. Grab your car, grab your tent and go on a ride – “Take the wheel and steer”. Singer and front-woman Margrét Rán sings about the struggles of breaking free and being vulnerable – while being stuck in her own skin. Though serious, the track “Skin” is perfect for rustic, Icelandic landscapes passing by while reminiscing about life and the struggles coming with it. AM

Vill & kef LAVÍK- Hitna

Fitting to our current progression to summer and temperatures (finally!) rising, Vill & kef LAVÌK release their latest upbeat summer track. Electronic, poppy beats, underlined by auto tuned vocals are perfectly fitting, both for clubbing and a crisp beach day at Nauthólsvík. The musical duo cannot be mistaken for the International airport, though “Hitna” would breezily ease the wait while flying somewhere tropical and warm. For now, our local beach must do the deed – grab some soda and zone out. AM

Unnsteinn – Lúser

Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson—who you might remember from a little band called Retro Stefson—has finally blessed us with some long awaited solo material. “Lúser” is Unnsteinn’s first release in years and in typical Unnsteinn style, it’s a bumpy, groovy number that seems tailor made for the late-night dance floors of Kaffibarinn or Húrra (RIP). That said, listen to the lyrics and suddenly, the song doesn’t seem as innocent. Over a disco beat, the song is basically a sad tale of the modern age, revolving around a woman who wants men who sell stocks rather than love letters. And as RobinHood filed to go public today, it seems a fitting time to release it. For can money fill the hole of companionship? We doubt it, but perhaps that’s a lesson one needs to learn themselves. HJC

Ásta – Melabúðin

If any grocery store deserves its name to be reflected in a song title, it’s Melabúðin in Vesturbæjar. A quaint and quirky corner store, fitting for the folk artist Ásta’s most recent single. It floats between sharp downbeats to folksy upbeats, followed by intriguing instrumentation that keeps the most average listener interested. The track centers around an experience Ásta had one December evening at the iconic shop, after a swim at Vesturbæjarlaug. She noticed some local teenage boys bantering, swaggering around, attempting to ooze with coolness. Ásta’s lyrics capture vulnerabilities––through overheard conversations and observations. An unconventional tune created from the most ordinary of circumstances. BK

Nico Guerrero – Streams of Oblivion

Dissonant. Discordant. Disturbing. Sonic drones and twisted guitars smother an anxiety dreamscape, spiralling upwards around each other into a space which is simultaneously expansive and suffocating. Nico says that he can only create in Reykjavík, and cites “Icelandic telluric forces, volcanoes, ghosts and deities” as the entities which permeate his work. Their influences are all clear and present in ‘Streams Of Oblivion’; it’s the kind of music I could invite to wash over me, if I was in the right mood. But that would have to be a pretty weird mood. And I wouldn’t want to indulge it for too long. JP

Brek – Stúlka ein

Recent acoustic folk act Brek open their latest album with “Stúlka ein”, an upbeat and sunny little track that features guitar, piano, and a nice little duet between the singers. The guitar playing is especially good–the finger picking has a light percussiveness that falls lightly in your headphones like a fresh Icelandic rain, simultaneously light, melancholy, and airy. Drawing on both Icelandic and other folk traditions, check out Brek if you need a little sunshine on a cloudy day! EP

Lára Rúnars – Landamæri

Lára’s ability to weave the healing abilities of sound with gentle acoustics, floods the senses with peace. The notes are soft, with mild pick-me-up’s. There’s a slight sense of grief between the lines, as Lára portrays a journey of trust and breaking down her self-made borders for protection from others. Learning to be vulnerable, trust, and open yourself up to others is an overwhelmingly challenging journey. Yet, it’s what makes the world, and well, love go around. So love yourself and love others a little more as you hum along to the gracious tones of Lára’s latest. BK

Oscar Leone – Sjaldan er ein báran stök

Need a thoughtful, heartbreaking piano ballad to remind you that life is precious? Well, here you go. “Sjaldan er ein báran stök’ is Oscar’s memorial ode to his Mother. The song, which begins with a simple piano melody and soft, devastating lyrics of love and remembrance, culminates in a passionate repetitive chant of “hærra” (“higher”) accompanied by a soaring chorus. It’s an apotheotic moment, celebrating life’s innate beauty and the human capacity to love and connect—our most blessed quality. We send you our best wishes, Oscar. HJC

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